Biotechnological sound installation Symbiome – Economy of Symbiosis explores the entanglement of symbiotic* interspecies relationship that is constantly adjusting according to trophic requirements and environmental conditions.


Hydroponic chamber is inhabited by red clover Trifolium pratense and root nodule bacteria Rhizobiaceae which exchange carbon and nitrogen compounds. The indirect measurements of the exchange influence the frequency of dripping water causing ripples that transcend symbiotic biofeedback loop of red clover and rhizobia into extended environment. The ripples on the water surface are translated into sound that is generated in real time and filtered through phase modulation. Sound maps the process of metabolic exchange thus reflecting that symbiosis is not an idealized relationship, but a process in which the species are continuously negotiating the use of natural resources. Symbiotic negotiation affects relationships beyond primary symbionts by provoking ripples in the extended environment. The environment is not something external, but is generated in relationships through intra-actions. Thus, visitors also affect the symbiotic relationship by exhaling carbon dioxide near the red clover.

*Symbiosis is any type of a close and long-term biological interaction between two different biological organisms,  be it mutualistic, commensalistic, or parasitic. The same relationship can have various types at different times and conditions.

Symbiome – Economy of Symbiosis, 2016

Saša Spačal, Mirjan Švagelj

Exhibition curator: Ida Hiršenfelder
Text: Saša Spačal, Mirjan Švagelj
3D modeling and installment plans: Blaž Šolar
Associate professional: Anil Podgornik
Special thanks: Slavko Glamočanin
Professional technical assistent: Alkimist
Photos: Dejan Habicht / Photo Archive Moderna galerija and Tadej Reissner
Production: Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova  –  MSUM+
Contact: sasa@agapea.si

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Kiblix Festival 2017, Maribor, Slovenia [Nov. – Feb. 2017/8]
Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, +MSUM, Ljubljana, Slovenia [Dec. – Jan. 2016/7]